GANGOTRI – CHAR DHAM

IMPORTANCE OF A PLACE

India is rightfully said to be the land with difference as it comes to diverse cultures and traditions, castes, religions etc as others may call to  their own country of thr origin. Liking a place or otherwise may differ from person to person; some may be enamored by the unspoiled natural beauties while others may derive pleasure  after knowing the historical perspective of the place. Although religion is a binding force yet there are examples to show that even religious considerations are not the limiting factors when it comes to visiting a place which offers much more than having religious connotations and that too away from the din and bustle of city life.

I visited Gangotri, located in the state of Uttarakhand in the Garwhal section, from 18th  May 2017 onwards. During this visit, I met many foreign tourists with whom I had the opportunity to interact. They were equally fascinated not only by the natural and pristine beauties of the area besides the historical perspective attached to CHAR DHAM.


Originally, CHAR DHAM was referred for PURI, RAMESHWARAM, DWARKA AND BADRINATH. This grouping was made by Adi Sankara – a great 8th century reformist but now CHAR DHAM are understood  as GANGOTRI, YAMNOTRI, BADRINATH and KEDARNATH because of magnetic beauty of the area and spiritual considerations. Yamunotri and Gangotri are identified with DEVI SITES whereas Kedarnath and Badrinath are identified or associated with Lord Shiva sites.

LIVING ENTITY THE GANGAJI – ITS SIGNIFICANCE FOR US ALL

While we discuss on CHAR DHAM, it is relevant to know about the significance of the most sacred rivers the Ganges and Yamuna. But first of all, I would like to discuss about river Gangaji along wit its origin and how it affects our lives. It is not merely a river but a living entity which bestows millions of people sustenance in various ways. Its river basin is 2150 Kms, provides supports in variety of ways for more than 50 million people, passes through four states of India i.e. Uttarakhand, UP, Bihar, West Bengal and also enters Bangla Desh. Its water irrigates fields of many states of the Indian Union.  

Considered one of the Char Dhams (the others being Yamunotri, Badrinath, and Kedarnath), Gangotri is said to be the mythological source of the Ganga river, and the spot, where Bhagiratha worshipped Lord Shiva and consequently mother Ganga descended on earth when Lord Shiva relieved the river from his matted locks at Gangotri.

It meets with the other mighty river Brahmputra and forms the largest delta of the world known as Sunderbans. If we can say that Gangaji supports our life from our birth to death, there will not be any exaggeration. Hindus traditionally immerse the asthis (last remnants of bones after cremation) into the Holy Ganges.

Ganga – Jamuni Tahjeeb has been born and thrived since ages on Ganga – Yamuna banks. Many civilizations, cultures and traditions have flourished on its banks and found sustenance besides Yamuna too have contributed in enhancing these.

Taking into consideration the contribution of Ganga Ji in variety of ways, this mighty and holiest river has been recognized as the living entity of India by Uttarakhan High Court in the very recent past. By this verdict, it goes to show that anybody who spoils the purity of river Ganga will get the same punishment as awarded to humans for any transgression. Concerted efforts are underway in order to keep the river clean. The first river to be recognized as the human entity is Whanganui River in New Zealand because it is considered as the most sacred for the people

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE – ORIGIN OF GANGAJI

There is a best known legend that a very famous King Sagara from SURYAVANSHI rajput warrior clawn, known for their valour and bravery and fulfillment of their promises for which they undergo any situation or circumstances.  He exterminated /rid the world off all the demons – known for their dehumanizing activities  and also wrong doings to spread their demonic fiefdom and dark-age.  

After having finished the last shade of demonic forces, King Sagara wanted to test his supremacy. For this end in view, he wanted to stage Ashwamedh Yajna he  directed 60,000 sons (born out of mother Sumati) along with one son, named Asamanja born to queen Kesani in order to let the Yajna horse  uninterrupted. It means anybody interrupting the horse could have to fight a battle with the sons of Sagara. Thence came the role of the king of Gods, Indra who while observing the Yajna horse being taken unchallenged saw in all this a challenge to his celestial throne if the Ashmetha Yagna horse could succeed in its task. He surreptiously tied the Yajna horse at the hermitage of Sage Kapil who was in deep meditation.

LOCATION OF ASHMETHA HORSE

A thorough search for the horse was launched by the sons of King Sagara. To their discomfiture, they found the horse tied in the hermitage of the said sage namedSage Kapila – a Vedic sage an known for original proponent of the Samkhya system philosophy. He is also described as incarnation of Lord Vishnu.  They rushed towards the asharam and in the process, disturbed the meditation of the sage. In utter rage, the sage cursed the sons of the king with severity of which all sixty thousand sons just were burnt alive leaving a mound of ash for each of them.  It was later learnt that if Goddess Ganga touched each of the mound of ashes, then all could get liberation or moksha  – by cleansing the ashes with its holy water.

SINCEREST WORSHIP BY BHAGIRATHA

Subsequently, , Bhagiratha,  the grandson of King Sagara worshipped Goddess Ganga in order to please her. So much so was the  sincerity and severity of his meditation that his wish was granted by Goddess Ganga. Lord Shiva or Nilkanth (a most benevolent one who even takes a pot full of poison in order to save the humanity from destruction), who had locked the Ganga river in His locks released the mighty river Gangaji.

BHAGARATHA SHILA LOCATED AT GANGOTRI TOWN

The place where Bhagiratha, which is still there in the form of Bhagiratha Shila where he worshipped can also be seen by us in Gangotri – a testimony and an example which we can see by ourselves.

It is well said that severest and focused meditation for several years could force even the Gods to take in hand the task of delivering goods for their worshippers. Goddess Gangaji appeared in the form of a river and delivered off the sins of the 60,000 sons of King Sagara and as a result all of them got Moksha or liberation.

GANGOTRI  TEMPLE

There is a majestic Gangotri Temple which is also a testimony to the historical perspective since ages together. The original Gangotri temple was built by General Amar Singh Thapa from Nepal. People of all hues withstanding severe cold and visit the temple as a mark of respect to the Goddess Gangaji. Besides the idol of Gangaji, there is also the idols of Kali Maan and other deities. Along with Gangotri temple there are temples of Bhola Baba Ji and Lord Ganesha.

BHAGIRATH SHILA

There is the image of Bhagiratha who worshipped the Lordess Ganga and beseeched Her to  pass through the hermitage of Sage Kapila where the ashes of 60,000 were there so that the dead could get liberated / moksha.

GAUMUKH {GAU – COW AND MUKH – MOUTH)}

Gangotri Glacier resembles with cow’s mouth, situated about 19 Kms from the Gangotri town. It is the exact source of Bhagiratha river which is tributary of Ganga. It is also a most sacred pilgrimage spot and taking a bath in it is considered most auspicious and ritualistic.

As vast number of pilgrims visit CHAR DHAM from mid-April to November, it is indeed a gigantic task for the state administration to handle the rush and exercise all care and caution to avoid any untoward incident. I with my wife amongst others were the witness to the seriousness of the administrative staff who start their Bio-metric Registration from 5:00 AM onwards (when normal people enjoy their sleep at home).

From Haridwar- Rishikesh to the final destination GANGOTRI, YAMNOTRI. BADRINATH and KEDARNATH, the ever vigilant police force could be seen helping the visitors in variety of ways.

Following aspects need to be considered essential for further success of the pilgrimage:-

 (a) Although security cover provided by the security personnel enroute for the entire Yatra is really exemplary, yet more watchfulness is need of the hour to check speed driving or careless driving to avoid accidents or minimize them.  

(b) As almost entire route is very hazardous through out the entire journey. There are the places where only a single vehicle could pass at a time but when a vehicle comes from the opposite direction or when there is an abrupt curve, it becomes all the more difficult for negotiate. One wrong move by any driver may put the lives of the passengers into jeopardy. Accidents do happen when drivers do not observe traffic rules with care and caution. This danger is more pronounced at the sharp curves and unexpected arrival of vehicle from the opposite side. I suggest, if the road could be broadened a bit at the curves, {although it is a bit farfetched but it is not beyond the realm of impossibility, it will facilitate negotiation of abrupt turn by the opposite direction coming vehicle(s). Safety first should be the buzz word, this slogan should find indelibly printed in the mindset of the drivers.


(c) It is also observed that the road bunds either cemented or iron railings / pillars duly fixed on the road protected with thick iron-plates but it has to be ensured that such iron pillars / railings withstand the sudden impact of a comparatively heavy vehicle if and when it happens accidently!

(d) It is our experience that the passengers are in the habit of pestering the driver(s) for driving the vehicle with more speed. This persistence sometimes plays in the minds of the drivers and becomes a cause of accident. SPEED AND SAFE DRIVING DO NOT GO TOGETHER. If average permissible speed is maintained, the distance between Rishikesh.to Gangotri town is covered almost within 12 hours and if by speeding up with all the chances of accidents  if half an hour is saved then what! Heaven will not fall down on the earth if the vehicle reaches half an hour late with safe driving. Therefore, the drivers should be given free hand and not forced to drive faster than hitherto required. SAFE DRIVING is therefore a must.

(e) There is urgent requirement of erecting changing enclosure(s) for ladies after they take bath in Gangaji as are available at Haridwar (Harkipodi.

(f) I was really impressed by the Medical cover provided by the state Government in Gangotri town. Due to strenuous uphill and downhill turns of the vehicle my wife had bout of vomiting. She was really in a critical condition, she was not able to take anything for the entire journey. The Medical Officer in Gangotri provided her medi-care and we had a safe return journey from Gangotri to Rishikesh and to our home at Delhi by the grace of Maan Gangaji. I suggest that more medical staff should be deployed during the duration of the pilgrimage for the meeting the medical requirements.


(g) Effort should always be made to ensure that the fragile ground at the curves or at other places of the road are identified and fixed instantaneously. It is because any comparatively heavy vehicle make the fragile road give way and may become a cause of sudden accident and consequent unfortunate but avoidable fatalities.


(h) There is a requirement of planting more trees firstly to solidify the ground and secondly for keeping the eco-system clean.

(i) The drivers of the buses and small vehicle operatives should be sensitized and given periodical lectures for the need of a safe driving. Though there are boards and hoardings at the vintage spots highlighting the need of safe driving yet much needs to be done to avoid accidents due to human mistake.

(j) Traffic rules should be followed by the drivers of the vehicles and anybody found transgressing the rules should be awarded exemplary punishment such as revocation of driving licence for life or jail term for the grievous transgression for deterrence. 

(k) At the Sanctum Sanctorum at Gangotri Temple, the Security staff deployed should present a decent etiquette/ mannerism and honesty of purpose. They are the representatives of the State of Uttarakhand and their behavior or attitude they display is taken as the general behavior of the state as a whole.


(l) In the God’s abode, all are equal. No VVIP or VIP treatment to any for dharshan. We all are His creations should never be forgotten.

(m) After offerings are presented, at least five second’s time should be afforded to each devotee. In our group, we were not given that much time even. We do not know how many deities’ idols were there besides Gangaji inside the temple! We were just frisked out without proper dharshan. One can imagine the state of a devotee, when he/she cannot have proper dharshan after traversing so many miles. This system should be streamlined.

 

 

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5 thoughts on “GANGOTRI – CHAR DHAM

  1. Kindly go through the write up on GANGOTRI. I had visited this site on 18th of May 2017. I found this site scenic, pious in all respects. Do go through the blog and comment.

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